Amid the drama surrounding the future of Jimmy Butler, Timberwolves fans can at least breathe a sigh of relief. Karl-Anthony Towns is going to be a member of the team for a while.
Towns signed his designated rookie extension with the team for five years and about $190 million, the team announced Sunday. Towns is entering the final year of his rookie deal but will be in Minnesota for the long haul after agreeing to the deal late Saturday night in an important milestone for the Wolves organization.
“Since day one, I always said I was gonna do something special and I tend to keep my word," Towns said in a video posted to the Timberwolves official Twitter account.
There was some uncertainty over whether Towns would sign the deal before the Oct. 15 deadline or become a restricted free agent. Towns’ relationship with Butler is strained, but even though the Wolves haven’t granted Butler’s request to be traded, Towns still accepted his extension. The Wolves had leverage in the deal because Towns would only become a restricted free agent after next season if he didn’t sign by Oct. 15 and the Wolves would have matched any maximum contract offer that came from another team — and that offer would have been less than the $190 million the Wolves could offer Towns. So it made financial sense for Towns to sign the maximum extension, which has been on the table for weeks.
Towns tweeted “5 More” shortly after the deal was reported first by ESPN along with a highlight video of some of his best plays in a Wolves uniform.
The deal includes a 5 percent trade kicker in the event the Wolves deal Towns to another team, a source said. The kicker would be a bonus the Wolves would have to pay Towns for the remaining value of his contract if they wish to trade him.
With Towns’ signing and with owner Glen Taylor’s willingness to get a deal done for Butler, the Wolves are signaling that their future is with Towns and Andrew Wiggins, who is entering the first year of the maximum deal he signed with the Wolves last year, and not with Butler.
Towns averaged 21.3 points per game last season as he helped the Wolves make their first playoff appearance since 2004. The Wolves selected him with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft. He was named third-team all-NBA last season, a significant accomplishment when it came to Towns’ next contract. Under the designated rookie provision, the Wolves were able to offer Towns a contract for up to 30 percent of the salary cap because he made an all-NBA team the season before. Otherwise, a player an make only up to 25 percent of the cap.